It’s been 19 months since Governor Malloy announced that he would not seek a third term, and we are now in the final two days of this marathon of a statewide race. On the ballot tomorrow are two constitutional amendments, as well as competitive races for the state legislature, constitutional offices (3 open seats), an open congressional seat, a US Senate seat, and, of course, the Governor’s Office. With more than $30 million spent on these races, the final weekend saw candidates criss-crossing the state to do what they must in order to turn out their votes.
Given the unprecedented activism and energy surrounding a Trump Presidency, the truth is that no pundit or analyst will be completely on point with predictions about tomorrow. (Check out this article to level your expectations, amidst all of the tea-leaf-reading that you’ll see over the next 36 hours.)
What we can tell you, however, is that Democrats are doing their best to mobilize--and while this has always been our party’s strength, it’s particularly the case in 2018. Republicans may have rallied together in Wallingford, and they got plenty of coverage after building a strong crowd of party loyalists for a pep talk from current legislators and candidates. But Democrats have gone back to basics, leveraging what is always on their side: a ground game. Ned Lamont, Chris Murphy, Jahanna Hayes, Members of Congress, Mayor Bronin, and other constitutional officers have been making their way around the state to rally canvassers and phone-bankers.
Here are some trends to watch as the races unfold on Tuesday:
Competing Visions for CT’s Schools
While Republicans have focused this election on taxes (and Dan Malloy), CT Democrats have largely organized around reacting to Donald Trump and the national issues that his administration has brought to the forefront (repealing healthcare, taking away women’s reproductive freedoms, stopping progress on gun control, and blowing up the deficit for tax cuts).
But for those of us in CT who are passionate about promoting great educational opportunities for all students, this election cycle is particularly important because it pits taxes against the social safety net. Don’t forget that CT’s next governor will appoint the Commissioner and State Board of Education Members, and the down-ballot races will define the makeup of the General Assembly’s Education Committee. Education advocates have therefore been very invested in these midterm races. We’ll know more about whether that’s paid off tomorrow!
Anger for Trump in Fairfield County and Farmington Valley: Will it be strong enough to keep Republicans home or to turn out moderates who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016?
While Fairfield County and Farmington Valley have been fertile ground for federal elections, they have been difficult terrain for Democrats in state elections because of fiscal issues. Watch these regions because of their importance in the battle for the State Legislature.
Voter Suppression: Will Republicans follow through?
Democrats traditionally try to protect voting rights. But we’ve seen the opposite from some Republican campaigns lately. CT’s Republican leadership sent out mailers last week, falsely implying that failure to vote will get your removed from the the ballot. Along similar lines of suppression, the Stefanowski campaign has requested that registrars appoint challengers at polling locations (there to contest someone’s right to vote on the grounds that s/he isn’t who s/he claims to be).
Designed to intimidate voters, this would create another hurdle for voter turnout. Democratic state Party Chairman Nick Balletto responded strongly calling it what it is: an attempt to make voting harder.
Harbinger Cities and Trends: Will Democrats Successfully Execute A Blue Wave in CT?
The “blue wave” is likely to build stronger Democratic turnout in suburban communities, but because of Connecticut’s demographics and politics, Democrats still need to over-perform in the cities (not just the big three, but other mid-sized cities as well). Keep an eye out for these types of signals:
Watch State Senate Districts 12, 13, 14, 26 closely as indicators of who will gain control this year.
Likewise, if you see reporting on Districts 17, 24, 28, and 36 being neck-and-neck, that could mean Democrats are in for an especially good night.
Watch the 5th Congressional District for whether Jahanna Hayes can energize Democrats to vote up and down the ballot in a way that will help state and local candidates.
If the election is called early for Ned Lamont, this should indicate momentum that will carry down the ballot.
Democratic strongholds report late, so don’t fret about early numbers. In each of the last two campaigns, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford reported after much of the rest of the state did. We’ll be hoping for strong results in these cities.
Same Day Registration
Lastly, we want to remind you that if you’ve missed the voter registration deadline, you can still vote tomorrow through Election Day Registration (EDR). Visit the specific EDR location in your town to register and vote at the same time. Check here to learn what you need to bring.
See you at the polls!
DFER CT State Director